ALERT! ALERT! As of today, dear readers, only six days remain until Valentine’s Day, that most despised and yet high-pressure of days! And if you are the sort to plan ahead for these sorts of things—we hear these people exist, anyway—we aim for nothing less than to support your good intentions by planting the seeds of romance and the forced bulbs of creativity. (Euphemism check: “forced bulbs of romance”?) In the meantime, we will be over in this corner, scouting out the candy situation. Ahem.
A couple of Austenacious classics:
You mean you DON’T celebrate Valentine’s Day and the Lunar New Year at the same time? THAT’s weird.
“Roses are red/Snowdrops are white/Gee, I hope your dad’s not a murderer.”
And some FUTURE Austenacious classics:
Show your love with minor domestic explosives, if you can find them!
We’re not saying you SHOULD take pictures of yourself in just your fancy underthings, make them scratch-off, and give them to someone dreamy…but we’re also not saying you shouldn’t.
For a good time, pair this up with the Onion Dish! Because nothing says “romance” like eggs and onions.
Write your love a secret message! Come on—Jane would be ALL OVER THIS.
My name is Miss Ball, and I’m a knitter.
(This is the part where you all chorus back, “Hi, Miss Ball.” Because we’re…addicts, I guess? Don’t you love where this is starting?)
It’s a rare day that one’s desire to knit constantly and one’s desire to blog about Jane Austen meet in a convenient location, but apparently that day has come: last fall, Interweave Press released Jane Austen Knits 2011, a collection of Austen-inspired patterns and gabbery, and now here I am, trying to type while considering the usable contents of my yarn stash. Congratulations, universe! You did it! Now: let’s all learn to knit and write simultaneously, because I cannot tell you how many hours of my life that would save.
The meeting of Janeiana and knitting is both natural and, I think, risky. It all comes down to two subsets of the population and one grand, defining question: What are you using this for? It’s one thing if you’re preparing for your local Regency costume ball, or stockpiling a collection of authentically old-fashioned knits, and a completely different thing if you’re just trying to incorporate a little English Country aesthetic into an otherwise modern wardrobe. Jane Austen Knits incorporates patterns for both populations, and does so rather seamlessly (…see what I did there?); there are patterns imitating Regency clothing and patterns merely suggesting Regency clothing and themes, which means most knitters (and knitted-goods recipients) should be able to find something to enjoy. This, by the way, is no mean feat.
One thing we must address right away is the Austen-knitterly obsession with spencers—the long-sleeved, cropped jackets originated by men and soon adopted by Regency women—and shrugs, both of which tend to come up in Austenian knitting with a frequency somewhat in excess of the number of people who actually wear either of them. (No Austenian pattern collection would be complete without one, or eighty-seven, and yet: how many cropped jackets does a modern lady need?) (Answer: One. IF she wears a lot of strapless dresses.) Jane Austen Knits devotes six patterns (out of a total 36) to spencers and shrugs, which a) actually seems fairly reasonable, given the subject matter, and b) means five-sixths of the patterns in the collection are NOT spencers or shrugs. For this, I am grateful.
My favorite patterns are, I think, the ones not exactly meant for me–the stunning yet masculine An Aran for Frederick (worn in the magazine by, uh, an equally stunning yet masculine young man, not that this influences a lady of such fine character as myself) and the also-technically-for-men Fitz, a pair of mini-cabled mitts. For myself, I might choose the Chawton Mittens—the combination of the cameos and the graphic colorwork pattern behind them reminds me of something a hip person on the subway might wear. In a nice way! The colorwork and tailoring on both the Meryton Jacket (for ladies) and Mr. Knightley’s Vest (…and gents) come across as dapper, and possibly a smart challenge for an intermediate knitter. Further props to both the Northanger Abbey Hood and the Scarlet Capelet, which I think land firmly in the Very Regency camp, but which appeal to me anyway by being pretty and simple, if not practical for my life.
One further note: Whether or not you fall in love with any of the patterns, the non-pattern sections of Jane Austen Knits are absolutely worth a read—varied and evidently well-researched, they’re a lovely resource and a fascinating read for Austen fans, history buffs, fashion addicts, and fiberheads alike.
Jane Austen Knits is a smart, accessible collection of patterns both traditional and less so, for knitters who want to look like a Dashwood sister and knitters who just want to look like they’ve read Sense and Sensibility—both of which are fine options. It’s available in print or as a download from Interweave Press.
N.B.: Non-Ravelry links have been provided where possible; the Ravelry link to the entire collection (and all patterns inside) is here.
Is it just me, or are people diving into the holidays with extra gusto this year? More than one of my friends confessed, with a definite air of asking for forgiveness, to breaking out the tinsel and Bing Crosby before Thanksgiving. (They shall remain nameless…FOR NOW.) My day-job officemates hung lights before I even arrived at work on Monday, and keep them lit despite the specter of blowing various circuits in our electrically dubious building. I even realized earlier this week that, if I don’t cool it, I might be sick of my favorite Andy Williams rendition of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” before it’s actually time to hear what Andy hears. What is going on here? Is it because Nordstrom wouldn’t decorate early? Whatever it is, apparently we all need a little Christmas, right this very minute. (If the New Christy Minstrels just popped, fully formed, into your head…well, you’re welcome.)
If you’re feeling the Christmas spirit this first day of December, well, you’re in luck: get to know this pile of classic Austenacious Christmas cheer! And if you’re not yet in the groove, what are you waiting for? Pull your Action Jane off the shelf, turn up your preferred version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” and consider the month ahead. After all, you only have twenty-five days to explode from holiday-induced stress/joy. Better get on it.
- Looking for the perfect gift for the Austenite in your life? Check out our 2011 Jane Austen gift guide! Still looking for some inspiration and maybe some Etsy stores to peruse? See previous gift guides here and here.
- Everything you can do, Jane can do better: Action Jane’s Christmas!
- There’s no combination like Jane, classic holiday ballet, and a short-story contest: Jane and Mrs. Fitzpatrick take on The Nutcracker.
- Looking for a Christmas craft with a Jane twist, or just need something to put on top of the tree? Make your Action Jane into a Christmas tree topper!
- For your holiday cheer and possibly a nice outing for the fire extinguisher: How to make plum pudding!
- From the English countryside to the north pole: Play the Letters to Santa game, Jane Austen style!
It’s that time of year again. Yeah, that’s right . . . it’s not even Thanksgiving, and Christmas songs are on the radio and glittering lights are out on the streets. In case you’re like me and haven’t started buying holiday gifts yet, here are some suggestions.
Are you tired of searching through the piles and piles of holiday cards at Target? Try these handmade Regency Christmas Cards from Etsy:
Looking for some new wall art to remind everyone that you (heart) libraries? Try this photo of Bath (Circulating Library and Reading Room) from Etsy:
And for the bookworm who has everything, how about this Pride and Prejudice necklace from Etsy:
The votes are in, the back-room meetings are concluded, and we have a winner for the Jane Austen Fancy-Dress Costume Contest!
Actually, that’s a lie. We have two winners. WHAT. You wanna make something of it? We like you, okay?
In the category of Outstanding Performance by a Costume Made from Kitchen Accessories, we have:
The Tin Man on the yellow sponge road! Ta-da! The judges were especially impressed by the heart personally chewed into shape by the artist, as well as the thoughtful use of the Emerald City in the background. Points for completeness and adorability. Congratulations, Miss Tarango!
In the category of Outstanding Use of a Scene That Is Really More of a Diorama Than A Costume, we present…
…Jane in 127 Hours! The judges commented specifically on the use of a slightly maimed Action Jane for artistic purposes, as well as the thoughtful recreation of southern Utah behind the main subject. Well played, Mr. Lim and Mr. Yoo! Appropriate prizes will be distributed in a timely manner.
Thank you to all our entrants, and congratulations to the winners!
The time has come and the submissions are in—just in time for Halloween, it’s the Jane Austen Fancy-Dress Costume Contest! We received a number of fine entries for our consideration, and we thank all who participated and/or cheered on the participants. Jane’s, er, new experiences included:
Jane lives her life like a candle in the wind. Or like something in the wind, anyway. (Via Mr. Lim)
Jane follows the yellow sponge road to the emerald city! (Courtesy of Miss Tarango and her teeth, which apparently personally shaped the gummy heart—and whose sacrifice we all appreciate.)
Jane horrifies all possible populations by dressing up in a dress of meat. “This was my idea, and nobody else has done it before,” she said. (Via Miss Ball)
Jane regrets sawing her own arm off, but some things can’t be helped. Would the BRONTEs have done it? We think not. (Via Mr. Lim & Mr. Yoo)
Jane terrifies small children Captain Hook, or possibly Jon Hamm on 30 Rock. Hard to say. (Via Miss Chong)
Stay tuned for the victory announcement—and in the mean time, feel free to champion the Jane of your choice in the comments. Happy Halloween, Austen-Nation! Stay safe out there.
So, it’s exactly twelve days until Halloween–and no, I don’t think there’s a song about birds in trees or golden rings for that one–and while I KNOW you have your OWN costume squared away, I’ve gotta ask you: What’s Jane going to be?
You…you ARE dressing up your Action Jane, aren’t you?
All I’m saying is, that green bodice/”here’s my feather and writing desk” thing has got to get soooo oooold for our dear Action Jane, and a change of thematic/sartorial scenery can’t hurt. So here’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to have an Action Jane costume contest. (Excuse me: a “fancy dress” contest.) Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to:
1) dress up your Action Jane in the Halloween costume of your choice,
2) take a picture of your handiwork, and
3) send the photo and a description of your Jane’s costume to missb at austenacious dot com by 6 PM PST, Sunday, October 30.
See? Like taking candy corn from a tiny trick-or-treater.
Don’t have an Action Jane? Don’t panic; just know that creative interpretations of the instructions may be rewarded.
The winner and her Action Jane get a prize, and by “prize,” I actually don’t just mean “bragging rights for having successfully clothed a six-inch plastic doll.”
Get on it, people! And spread the news!
Where early young women take walks by West Cliff Drive before breakfast (with their dogs). Where there are many many coffee shops to shelter from the rain, see, and be seen in. Where Admiral Croft’s arm really would be helpful in fending off undesirable acquaintances-to-be. And where sensible young women are indeed fine for their own pleasure alone.
Readers, let’s chat.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick sent me this listing from Etsy, prompting a moment of daydreamy bliss followed by the sharp shock of reality. (It’s a hard world in which we live, people.) Heaven knows we at Austenacious are fans of Brooke and her shop, and this is a really cool shirt—but a teeny, tiny, whispery voice of dissent persists. While any gentleman wearing this sort of t-shirt on the street would, obviously, get the automatic “how you doin’?” treatment from this lady, two things stand out:
1) Mr. Darcy would never actually wear such a shirt. And I don’t mean because it has short sleeves and no collar and—gasp!—words on it; I mean that half the reason Mr. Darcy is Mr. Darcy is that he isn’t into self-promotion. This is a man who swears everybody to secrecy anytime he does anything nice, which is surprisingly often—and if he’s willing to go to all that trouble just to hush everybody up about the occasional midnight douche-hunting expedition, somehow a braggy t-shirt doesn’t seem…quite right.
2) I don’t care if he’s alone: there’s no way this guy’s single. There just isn’t.
Literary aesthetes/crafty nerds, take heart! Penguin Classics, ever popular for their artsy, modern designs, is taking things even further this fall: hand-sewn covers for Emma, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, and Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty! Or, at least, the originals were hand-sewn—the mass-produced versions will use sculpted emboss, which (according to the Google machine and my limited understanding of non-standard cover design; Miss Osborne could doubtless fill in the gaps) is a non-thread, non-manual-labor sort of endeavor. Which, hey, might be okay, considering the thorny issues surrounding who exactly would be doing the embroidery of thousands of ostensibly non-exorbitantly-priced mass-market books. In any case, the covers were created by artist Jillian Tamaki (check out process photos here), who apparently said that she would not be taking commissions for embroidery work unless Penguin Classics invited her to embroider their books. Which just makes me want to say, Hey, I will never write for television unless it’s for whatever Bryan Fuller‘s doing next! Nor will I ever take a writing job on the internet unless it’s for Go Fug Yourself! And I certainly won’t write for print unless it’s for The New Yorker. OBVIOUSLY.
Sooooo, I’ll just be over here, waiting for the phone to ring. Yup, aaaaany second now.
Via The Atlantic.